Posted by: Tony | January 20, 2007

Grace vs. Worth

In Genesis 1 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

One of the major ideas of what it means to be created in the image of God is the fact that man has great value, worth and dignity. To be created in the image of God tells us that man is of tremendous value and worth. If fact, man is so valuable that God sent His only Son to die for man. That is how much man was worth. This is what Christians today need to hear and understand and live. That you were worth the death of God’s Son! Regain your dignity and realize how valuable you really are! God wouldn’t come down from heaven just to die for worthless worms. He came to die for you, a worthy, valuable, significant person! Every man and woman is of infinite worth because the infinite Son of God died for them.

If you can listen to those statements just made and agree with them, you have been psychologized along with multitudes of other Christians. Modern psychology (both secular and Christian) is based on humanistic, atheistic foundations. What is humanism? Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as, “a philosophy that asserts the dignity and worth of man and his capacity for self-realization through reason and that often rejects supernaturalism.” Most modern atheistic psychology assumes the great worth and value of humanity apart from God. Such thinking is rooted in the theory of evolution. One psychology text, for example, has this to say:

“After the great biologist Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution in On the Origin of the Species in 1859, people’s conception of themselves underwent a fundamental change….By placing humans firmly within the animal kingdom, Darwin laid the foundation for the field of psychology. In fact, publication of On the Origin of Species is regarded by some people as marking the beginning of psychology as a legitimate field.”

So you see that the atheistic belief in evolution has been foundational to humanistic psychology which is foundational to Christian psychology which underpins the church’s teaching of man’s great value, worth and dignity apart from Christ. This teaching does not come from Scripture. In fact so much has been made of Genesis 1 to support the idea of our worthiness, that Genesis 3 has been overlooked. This is a common error when dealing with who we are, who God is and the meaning of life. Even we as Christians fall into this error of forgetting how foundational the entrance of sin, or the fall, really needs to be in all our thinking. In contrast to what we may have been taught, the Bible’s teaching of the value, worth and dignity of man is diametrically opposed to the psychologizers. Many Christian leaders and otherwise decent Bible teachers have been psychologized even to the point of pro-actively thrusting this non-Biblical teaching onto the church. Christians need to be very discerning when it comes to understanding who we really are, indeed without Genesis 1-11 we cannot come to right conclusions.

Consider also that most Christian leaders do not take God for His Word when He said He created everything in six days. Rather they look to the experts to discount the Bible. In the same way, they have not looked to the Bible for understanding in this area, rather many Christians have looked to so called “Christian psychologists” who are supposed experts at what it means to be a person of significance, value and dignity. To say that Genesis 1-11 has been misused, abused and ignored wholeheartedly by the church would not be an exaggeration. How many of our Christian leaders are willing to take a stand on a literal Genesis? Unfortunately, not many. And the main reason is because of outside influence on our understanding of Genesis. The millions of years propagated by evolutionists has held more weight than the pure milk of the Word. In the same way, this humanistic idea of man’s great glory and worth has infiltrated the church through ‘Christian’ psychology and the church leaders are embracing this teaching rather than let the Bible tells us who we are and what we are worth.

Most evangelicals know that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. They know that it’s heresy to say that we are saved by our works, whether it be Roman Catholic sacraments, good deeds, baptism, etc. However, a new teaching that borders on heresy has infiltrated the church. This is the idea that that God redeemed man because of his great worth. In an attempt to exalt man, by supposing him to be of infinite worth, the grace of God is denied.

The foundational meaning of the word grace is unmerited favor. How can we be saved by grace and that not of ourselves, if we are of independent value and worth? If we are of value and worth in and of ourselves and this is what caused God to give His only Son for us, then it is not grace. It is a business transaction. If we are of intrinsic value and worth, Jesus’ death was not a sacrifice but a shrewd bargain. This is what is called “shopping mall theology.” Whenever we move from the mercy and grace of God in terms of salvation and put independent value on ouselves, we are saying that people deserve to be saved, because they are worth it. In summary, Jesus Christ is to be glorified because He saved us by His grace; our works and worth have nothing to do with it.

Take this hypothetical situation as an example: A recent television newscast reported the arraignment of a serial killer who has admitted responsibility for at least nine murders. The judge set his bail at five million dollars! Would we use the same sort of reasoning to conclude that this man should feel good about himself and regard himself as a very valuable human being, since the judge set his bail so high? After all, he is worth five million dollars to society!

The five million dollar bail obviously does not reflect the value of the murderer, but the severity of his crime. Similarly, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross is not a statement of our worth, but indicates the depth of our sin and guilt before God. Again, if Jesus died for us because he saw something in us worth dying for, then there was something in us which merited his death somehow. But we are saved because of something good in God, not because of something good in us.

Isaiah 2:22 tells us “Stop regarding man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for why should he be esteemed?” Let us be done with esteeming man and let us esteem Christ in all His glory.

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Responses

  1. About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

    Peace Be With You
    Micky


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